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Audition do's and don't

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by JimmyM, Jun 18, 2005.

  1. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    People have been asking about how to get over in an audition, so here's a list of stuff to make it easier:


    1. Show up on time, which means 5 minutes early but no more than 10 minutes early. If you have to be late, call the bandleader immediately.

    2. Have working equipment. It doesn't have to be state of the art, but if it doesn't work, you won't get the gig.

    3. Set up quietly, efficiently, and quickly.

    4. Whatever they want you to do. It's their band, and they know what they're looking for. You won't get the gig if you whine about having to play a song you don't know.

    5. Your homework. Find out a general idea of what they'll do, what they're looking for in a bassist, songs you might play, if they have gigs.

    6. Exude confidence but not arrogance. Be a badass but be a nice badass.

    7. Respect what they do. You're the one looking for the gig, not them. Play like you think you need to play to get the gig. Save your wank licks for rehearsing new stuff once you get into the band. If you don't like something, keep your mouth shut and don't do the gig if it's that big a deal.

    8. Respect what you do. Be yourself and play with confidence. Look like you're enjoying yourself. If they get stuck on something, it's OK to help out if you know what to do, but don't go sticking your knowledge in everyone's faces.

    9. Dress appropriately for the band you're auditioning for. Don't show up for a jazz audition with a filthy System Of A Down t-shirt and 5 eyebrow rings. And don't show up for a death metal audition in Dockers and a polo shirt.

    10. Find out beforehand. Ask if they have gigs. Ask if they do it for a living. Get a ballpark on how much you'll make. You'll save their time and yours by finding out in advance if your interests clash.


    1. Let them know you don't know how to do something. If they don't ask, don't tell them. If they ask, tell them you can do it. If you do something and fail, at least they know you have the guts to try it. There's plenty of time for honesty later on. (Note: it's OK if you don't know a specific song and say "I don't know it but let's try it if you want."

    2. Acknowledge any mistakes you make. Maybe they won't notice.

    3. Point out their mistakes. Again, you're the one who wants the gig, not them. If they make a mistake or arrange things differently, you need to adapt to them, not tell them they're wrong.

    4. Wank between songs because the songs don't show them how you can REALLY play. When you're done with a song, don't play at all.

    5. Talk about how great you are. They'll see how great you are when you play.

    6. Feed them a line of crap about your previous experience. They'll know once you play how experienced you are. But if you have a lot of experience, tell them. Experience doesn't hurt at all. But don't constantly rub it in their faces if they don't have as much experience as you.

    7. Cancel without notice. If you book an audition, you better show up. And if something comes up and you can't show up, call the bandleader ASAP to reschedule, not 5 minutes before the audition.

    8. Whine if the audition lasts a shorter time than you expect. Maybe they know all they need to know in the first 3 minutes. Maybe they have a lot of people auditioning and just don't have time.

    9. Force your creativity on them. Mention that you write songs if you do, but don't tell them you want to write songs for them unless they seem genuinely interested. Don't tell them you want to sing lead if they have a lead singer who sings everything. Don't try to change their arrangements. Etc. etc.

    10. Take the gig if you can't meet the demands of the band. If they need you to rehearse more than you have time for, tell them honestly if you'll be able to handle it or not. If you can't travel and they do roadwork, tell them. Maybe if they like you enough, they'll work around you. If you get too far into the band and then bail out on something you told them you could do, they will badmouth you and you will get a reputation. The music community is a small one and word gets around.

    11. Yell at them if they tell you that you didn't get the gig. Maybe you were their second favorite and the guy who got the gig won't work out a week later. Who are they going to call? You? Not after you called them "talentless hacks" and told them to rot in Hell for not choosing you. Be gracious about it. Try to find out why so you can learn from it, and thank them for giving it a shot.

    Follow these rules and even if you're not that strong a player, you still might find yourself getting the gig. Hope it helps.
  2. I nominated this thread for stickied-status...
  3. Bad Brains

    Bad Brains Banned

    Jan 7, 2004
    Detroit, michigan
    That seems like an awful lot of work. It be easier to start your own band almost!
  4. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA

    +1. Good adive in there, thanks JimmyM.
  5. This collection should be deemed "Audition 101"
    Well done!
  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Thanks you all! Hopefully it will help some folks out there to land the gig they want.

    Bad Brains, I don't know that it's all that much work to act professionally. But if it is, yeah, then start your own band, then use these guidelines to judge the musicians who come to audition.
  7. fatbassjazzer


    Feb 27, 2004
    Thats very good advice that I agree with 100%. Even though I was a little confused for a minute because I forgot to read over the big DON'T right in the middle of the page.
  8. As a drummer, I'd like to add:

    - play for the pocket and to the music. Do not become "lead bass". Hook up with the drummer because he will have the most to say about having you in the band after you leave. ;)
  9. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I would say that's pretty sound advice, Oxford. It would make a nice little addendum to the part about respecting what they do. But I was trying not to be instrument-specific in my list. I guess I did get instrument specific in one part, but I think the stuff I wrote would work for anyone playing any instrument. Just cross out "bassist" and insert "________ist."
  10. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    Actually this is pretty much accurate for any job interview, too :bassist:
  11. For the most part. But if you're interviewing for a regular job, you should stay out of his pocket.

  12. JimmyM - this is an awesome thread. I hope you don't mind that I posted it on my drumming forum. I gave you and this site full credit. :);action=display;threadid=14375

    Drop in an add some thoughts. I think it is a good idea for bass players and drummers to get a more fuller understanding of each other's world...that is why I am here. :D

  13. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I actually treat every audition the same way I treat a job interview. There are many wankers of all kinds in the music world, I strive to not be one of them.
  14. seanlava


    Apr 14, 2005
    And remember, just like a job interview, not every candidate is perfect for every gig.
    I once lost a gig to another bass player of lesser ability, education and experience. Why? Because he slung his bass around his knees, and played with a pick. To the band I was auditioning for, these were positive traits, which I don't posess.
  15. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Ox and anyone else, if you think it will help, feel free to post it anywhere you want. I'm not overly concerned about credit. It's nice that you did that and thanks, but it's not like I stand to get rich off it. So post it anywhere you think it would help.

    Sean, that would be covered under #5 in the Do's section, do your homework. You are right that it doesn't matter how good you are if you don't have the look they're going for. Unfair? Maybe. Is it going to change any time soon? Doubtful.
  16. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Excellent thread.

    But I have a question. What do you do if you audition for a band and it turns out that they stink? I like to use the, "Well, I have a few more auditions to do...." line, but it sounds contrived and insincere to me, much like the "We'll call you" lines you hear at job interviews. What's a classy way to back out of a gig without being "honest"?
  17. Maybe something like

    "We'll, right now your schedule doesn't seem to fit that well in with mine, but I'll see what I can do..."
  18. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You could say, "Thanks but I don't think I'm interested" and leave it at that. Or "I'm sorry, but I don't think this is the right situation for me." If they press you about why, tell them you just didn't feel the right vibe that you need to commit to a band. You don't have to tell them they suck or anything...be nice but be firm about it. I have a friend who can't sugarcoat what he says and will say things like, "Man, you guys aren't very good and I just can't hang." He hasn't had a gig for 3 years. Of course it doesn't help that he's quite often the reason the band doesn't sound good, but he's clueless about it. Nothing worse than a clueless jerk, huh?

    As for why I didn't include that in the list, I'm assuming that the person auditioning wants the gig.
  19. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA

    First off, the timing of this thread was perfect for me, and the advice is great. I have always gotten my gigs through putting stuff together with friends. I had my first ever audition tonight for an established band (I friggin NAILED it, btw). Just wanted to add some thoughts to this thread.

    I wanted to emphasize #5 above. Talk to the bandleader before the audition. More importantly, though, LISTEN to what you hear from the band on what they want.

    In our first conversation, the bandleader for tonight told me he really liked an old school round warm P-bass sound. He had people showing up to audition with a modern trebly, bridge pickup sound. As soon as he heard that tone, they were pretty much gone. I'm sure he told them that in advance, and they still didn't get it.

    Hearing that from him, I showed up with my P/J switched all the way on the P pickup with the passive tone rolled off, and got compliments from start to finish about my tone.

    It pays to listen. I was nervous as hell going into this thing tonight. Even though I really don't need the gig, it seems like it would be a fun one, and I wanted a reality check on where my playing stands at the moment.

    The other thing that I can't emphasize enough. LEARN THE MATERIAL BEFORE YOU GO TO THE AUDITION. Don't just learn the notes, learn the intricacies of the feel and the rhythm. Know it hot, cold, backwards, forwards, upside down, inside out. Of course bring your own flavor to it, but just really showing the band enough respect to learn the song the way they play it will put you ahead of a lot of the people you are competing against for the gig.
  20. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Congratulations, TheW! I can sympathize with the nerves. I hate auditions. They're nerve-wracking, they involve a lot of preparing, and quite often they go on much longer than they need to. I remember one audition a good while back that went on a bit too long...the band wasn't bad at all, and it seemed to be going well. But a half hour audition should be enough for anyone. After about 40 minutes, I put my bass down and said, "Well, I really enjoyed playing with you guys. You're a really good band and I hope this works out."

    The singer says, "What? You're going?"

    I said, "Yeah, I'm going out tonight with my girlfriend."

    He replies, "But we've only done 7 songs. We need to go through the whole setlist to see if you can play them, too."

    I said, "Seeing as how I nailed the songs we just did, I think that gives you a pretty good idea how the rest of the list will go if we start working together."

    And he starts telling me how I need to call my girlfriend and blow her off and we have to run through the whole setlist. So I said, "Does this mean I've got the gig?"

    He says, "No, we can't tell you that until we do all our songs, and then we have to discuss it."

    I continue packing and say, "Sorry, but I wasn't expecting to have to stay all night for an audition. I did have a lot of fun and think we could do some damage if we hooked up, but I really need to go."

    He starts talking to me about "Well if you're leaving before we're done, you must not be that dedicated," and a bunch of stuff like that. I tried to be nice at first, but then I said, "You want dedication, call me with gigs. I'll give you dedication up your ass!"

    And they did, about a week later! But it sure didn't make me like the process.

    I ought to write a do's and don'ts for bands who are auditioning musicians, too, I guess :rolleyes:

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